Top items on the agenda during a meeting of the Finance, Ways, And Means Committee on June 23, 2023, included employee raises and understaffing.
Department heads of the various Weakley County offices voiced their concerns over losing employees due to low pay, compared to other counties of comparable size, and the need to hire additional employees to handle increased workloads.
Trustee Marci Floyd and other department heads expressed their concerns over losing employees because they can earn more in other counties for the same job.
Circuit Court Clerk Courtney McMinn stated the prior clerk had her staff absorb the duties handled by an employee that left. But the workload has increased significantly and the vacant position needs to be filled. She noted Circuit Court and General Sessions Court are in session at the same time in June and July, which leaves her office understaffed.
Additionally, because of understaffing, it makes it extremely difficult for her office to segregate duties involved with handling money. McMinn explained that the person acting as bookkeeper cannot be same employee handling money received from court costs, fines or licensing fees.
McMinn stated the salary of this employee would amount to approximately $28,000.
Committee members stated they have to complete work on the budget, so they will know what the anticipated revenues are. They said once revenues have been collected at the end of June 2023, it will give the commissioners a better idea of how much money they’ll have to work with. Then they will be able to calculate how much money will be available for raises.
Weakley County Sheriff Terry McDade requested the committee agree to approve funding for four additional officers. “I have two officers on each shift to cover 582 sq. miles and I’m asking to get four on each shift,” McDade said. He currently has 12 uniformed officers two work all shits seven days per week. “Weakley County has a higher population than Obion or Henry counties, but they make more money and have more officers,” McDade said.
Regarding equipment purchases, McDade noted he asked for two additional vehicles. “Obviously, if we have more officers, we’re going to need more vehicles,” he said.
“Also, the security cameras in the jail are very outdated and I’ve got to replace them.” However, the sheriff explained “it’s a one-time deal,” not a recurring expenditure every year. “It’s something unforeseen that just came up.”
“Eventually, we’re going to have to replace our body cameras,” McDade said.
He explained the body cameras the Sheriff’s Department purchased four years ago aren’t manufactured anymore, so when they’re damaged, they can’t be replaced.
McDade reported the work on the Weakley County Correctional Complex should be completed in July. He noted, since money for the project was appropriated during FY 2022-2023, it doesn’t require any funding in the FY 2023-2024 budget. He also mentioned the roof was replaced, due to leaks; 26 roof-mounted HVAC units have been installed and are operating; the flooring tile is being replaced; and other repairs to the interior of the building are underway.
Weakley County currently has five SRO officers. McDade requested the committee fund an additional SRO to fill in when an officer is unable to be on the job, due to illness or other reasons. The five SROs will be funded in FY2022-2023 through a state grant signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Bill Lee. The grant will pay up to $75,000 annually, per SRO, per campus (school building). The grant covers salary and benefits, as well as vests and other equipment. However, an additional SRO would have to be paid for by Weakley County government, and the request was denied.
Weakley County 911 Director Christy Fulcher requested an additional dispatcher for the 911 office, due to a significant increase in call volume. She stated the salary, insurance and other benefits for the position amounts to $58,000. However, Fulcher said she is not requesting a pay raise for 911 employees.